If you have been hit with a garnishment for a debt that is long past due (mortgage, auto loan, personal loan), you could be losing as much as 25% of your paycheck until the debt is repaid. Many people facing garnishment feel they are trapped, with no way out. You do have options you can take to fight garnishment, even if you have already been garnished for some time now. You can protest, or object to the garnishment. You will need to file for a hearing in the court that levied the garnishment on you.
There are some basic steps to follow, although some steps will vary according to what state you live in. No creditor with the exception of the government, student loan debt and past due child support can garnish you without a court hearing. Even if a judgement has been levied on you, the creditor must go to court again and file papers to start the garnishment process. You do not need to be in court for the creditor to win a garnishment order on you.
If the court grants your creditor an order to garnish your wages, the marshal or sheriff will deliver the order to your employer. In most states you have the right to receive a written notice informing you that you will be garnished. You have the right to a hearing in court before your employer may begin with holding your income. This hearing is your chance to have the garnishment lowered, work out a payment plan or possibly even have the garnishment order thrown out altogether. The notice you will receive should be called a Notice of Garnishment of Personal Earnings, but this name might differ according to what state you reside in.
Once you receive your Notice of Garnishment of Personal Earnings, you must act very quickly, or your time window to act will close. The time to act will range from 30 days on the high end, to a mere 5 days in some states. If this window closes due to your failure to act, garnishment can and will begin. If you have any objections to your garnishment, you must beat this deadline.
To start your objection process you will need to file paperwork, in a written objection to any proposed wage garnishment. The notice that court sent you will outline the proper procedure to follow as far as how to start the written objection. You must send this to court, but you also must send a copy to your creditor who won judgement on you, in most states. Your objection must include the case number and case caption, and the reasons you are objecting. It must also be currently dated and contain your contact information, then you must sign the document. If you fail to do this correctly you may be waiving your right to fight the garnishment at a later date. If you are unsure of any of these steps, call a debt attorney, they are especially trained to deal with all manner of debt related legal maters.
Court will send you a hearing date. It is vital that you attend this hearing, if you want to protect your income. If you have not heard from the court with the date and time of your hearing, do contact the clerk of the court, as mistakes do happen. When you have your moment in court do not challenge the judgement itself, you will lose, you can however challenge the garnishment itself. You can argue for exemption or for relief by means of a lower percentage of garnishment. Bring with you to court any and all documents related to the case, and any documents that will support your claims. The judge will then render a decision which will take one of three forms, lowered garnishment, vacating the garnishment altogether, or upholding the garnishment if your objections have no merit.
This article just covers the basics and should not be taken as legal advice. If you need legal advice seek out a debt attorney.